Video has emerged from inside an Oklahoma jail showing a corrections officer choke an inmate for more than a minute until he died.
Darius Robinson, 41, was arrested on April 1 on a 2008 warrant for failing to pay child support. On April 4, the father of seven experienced what a family attorney has called a “manic episode” inside his jail cell.
According to Caddo County Undersheriff Spencer Davis, Robinson began acting erratically and had threatened a cellmate, prompting his removal to an isolated cell of his own. He then started eating ants off the floor and pages from a Bible.
When jailers entered the cell in an attempt to calm Robinson, Davis said he charged them. As a result, Robinson was pepper sprayed and held down on the ground with what would ultimately become a fatal chokehold.
A surveillance camera from inside the cell caught what occurred. The footage, which was released to Robinson family attorneys, shows him waving around a blanket, tearing up pieces of paper, and squirming around on the floor.
Civilian corrections officer Michael Allen Smith is seen entering Robinson’s cell with officer Vicki Lyn Richardson and they begin cleaning up Robinson’s mess while he takes a seat on a bench.
The footage shows Robinson lean toward Smith, who is standing in front of him, and the officer responds by wrapping his forearm under his neck. Richardson then pepper sprays Robinson and Smith takes him to the floor.
Once on the ground, Smith grips Robinson’s neck with both hands and handcuffs him before a third officer enters the cell and puts his foot on Robinson’s back. Having choked Robinson for more than a minute, Smith finally lets go, but the damage is done.
Watch the raw footage:
Following the incident, an autopsy found that Robinson’s windpipe had been crushed, the hyoid bone supporting his tongue had been fractured, and the surrounding muscles had been hemorrhaging blood.
A state medical examiner ruled the cause of death a homicide that resulted from “manual compression of the neck.” Caddo County district attorney Jason Hicks has not brought any charges against Smith.
Undersheriff Davis said on Monday that Robinson’s death was “not what anyone wanted” and that Smith and Richardson have been placed on paid administrative leave until a grand jury decides whether or not to indict them and a separate state investigation is concluded.
Robinson family attorneys said that they are not going to wait for the results of the investigation to file a lawsuit, and that “the jailers choked Darius to death, but he was killed by the justice system in Caddo County.”